Beach by Day, Rooftop Party by Night at Bimini's Big New Resort
The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini is a little (OK, big) slice of Miami's South Beach scene dropped into the middle of the Out Islands of the Bahamas -- complete with a rooftop ultralounge and see-and-be-seen infinity pool.
This is a large resort on a small island, with all of the potential good and bad that entails. There's no question that the Hilton is a beautiful hotel; what remains to be seen is what kind of impact it has on Bimini, a sliver of land in the Atlantic that up until now has mostly been the province of anglers -- both local fisherman and visitors who come to the island for game fishing. Existing resort on Bimini largely catered to boaters, for example the low-key, low-rise Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Yacht Club.
By Yacht, Ferry or Seaplane, Bimini is Great for a Weekend Getaway or More
Shipped over in modular sections and then assembled, the hotel is a gleaming white edifice contrasting sharply with the blues and greens of the Bahamian sky and Bimini's shallow and warm Atlantic waters. There are several ways to get to Bimini -- regular ferry service from the Miami area to Bimini resumed in September 2016, and there is regular airline service from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. By far the most stylish way to arrive at the Hilton, however, is by seaplane: both CapeAir and Tropic Ocean Airways offer seaplane flights practically to the resort's doorstep.
Scandinavian Style and Full of Light
Once you are actually at the front door, your immediate impression of the resort is light-and-bright, from the sunsail-covered portico to the cavernous lobby and even the casino -- possibly the only one on the planet with floor-to-ceiling windows. Obviously the designers thought the risk of distracting gamblers with views of the marina and lagoon were well worth the tradeoff.
The resort has 305 rooms and 18 suites, with room rates starting at a level you're not likely to find back on South Beach: as low as $189 per night, midweek, in the low season. While not quite IKEA, the room decor is distinctly Scandinavian - a mix of light and dark woods, brown, tan, and white fabrics, and chrome accents as the most prominent decorative enhancement.
Our room overlooked the resort's pastel private villas, but others face the water or overlook the hotel's main swimming pool, which undulates along one side of the building (you can walk out from some rooms right onto the pool deck).
Dine on Pizza, BBQ, Sushi -- or Prime Steaks at Sabor
A la carte dining options include a centerpiece sushi restaurant and raw bar -- both prominently situated in the lobby (this also may be the only hotel to have a bar set up directly behind the reception counter). Hemingways is the hotel's full-service eatery, while Amici is the place to go for a poolside pizza or burger (or Starbucks in the morning).
The Healing Hole has barbecue and beers by the marina docks, while the Paradise Beach Bar is a nice option for drinks and lunch when you need to get some shade after lounging on the resort's best beach, a short walk from the main hotel building. Located in a circular building with views from nearly any angle is Sabor, the standalone fine-dining restaurant.
Just Outside the Gates, Bimini is Another World
Bimini's compact size and minimal road traffic make it great for exploring on foot or, more efficiently, by bike or electric golf cart, which can be rented at the resort. Local bars, conch shacks, pizza restaurants and shops selling Bimini's famous sweet bread are all nearby, and we'd highly recommend venturing out to explore beyond the Resort World gates.
Fishing charters are among the most popular activities on Bimini, which also has a small museum, excursions where you can swim with sharks or dolphins, dive trips to the wreck of the Sapona, and the famous Healing Hole spring -- yet another Caribbean candidate for the fountain of youth.